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I think the first time I heard the word "falafel" was in Paris in 2007 when my daughter and I were visiting for her senior trip. Our apartment was in the Marais, an arrondisement (neighborhood) that is known for its Jewish history. As such, there are a few good Jewish eateries in that area.
At that time, I wasn't curious about Mid-Eastern cuisine. We were in Paris and FRENCH cuisine is what we were going to eat. Well … that and an Italian restaurant that we found in Place du Marche St. Catherine!
But my curiosity was piqued and over the years, I kept finding "falafel" popping up in various places. I knew it usually had flour in it as a binder and since we avoid wheat, I gave up on ever tasting it. Furthermore, it is often tucked into pita … another wheat-filled roadblock.
As with most of the things we've enjoyed eating over the years, I knew there had to be a way to enjoy falafel without any of the harmful effects from the ingredients that are traditionally used.
How to make Falafel gluten-free:
I read books and trolled the internet to learn how to limit and exclude ingredients that cause grief to those I love to feed. Thankfully, I found ways around the challenges and it's thanks to people like the ones at Minimalist Baker … and many others … that I've been inspired to substitute suitable ingredients to create old favorites. This recipe uses oat flour, but I use a 1:1 gluten free blend. I've used both King Arthur's and Bob's Red Mill. There are five or six recipes for falafel on her site so if you want to explore further, that's the place to land!
Falafel is made of chickpeas, flavored with herbs and spices, then processed until a dough of sorts is formed. Don't give up on this step too soon … it will take a few minutes of processing and scraping the bowl down to get the consistency you want.
Form the mixture into golf-size balls then into patties.
Then fry them up into a crusty yumminess in a skillet, cast iron if you have it.
Enjoy falafel in many ways, but my favorite way is on greens and topped with tzatziki sauce. Or just out of the skillet if that's your jam!
Other Recipes You Might Like:
- 1 ½ cups dry garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- ½ cup parsley chopped
- ½ cup onion chopped
- 7 cloves garlic
- 2 Tablespoons gluten-free flour blend
- 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 pinch cayenne powder (optional)
- avocado oil or other high-smoke point oil for frying
- Rinse uncooked chickpeas in a fine mesh strainer and put in a large bowl. Cover with water and let soak for 8-12 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse again and put them in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute, then cover, remove from heat, and let set for 1 hour. Drain and rinse. Then pour them out onto a clean kitchen towel and dry them using another towel.
- Put parsley, onion, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Mix well.
- When the chickpeas are slightly cool, add them to the food processor with rest of the ingredients. Mix to combine thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. This step will take some time so don't give up too soon! The mixture should be almost like a paste with only tiny pieces of chickpeas and herbs.
- Scoop out golf-size balls of the mixture and form them into patties.
- Heat a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add enough oil to create a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Put as many falafel in as will comfortably fit, allowing a little space between them. Cook until the bottoms are brown, then flip them over, adjusting the heat as needed and adding more oil to keep the pan from smoking.
- Serve with tzatziki sauce on salad or in pita (gluten-free!)Bon Appetit!
- If you need to freeze leftovers, reheat in 375-degree oven until warmed through.
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